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The company was founded by Nick Woodman in 2002. Woodman started the company following a 2002 surf trip to Australia in which he was hoping to capture quality action photos of his surfing, but could not because amateur photographers could not get close enough, or obtain quality equipment at reasonable prices. His desire for a camera system that could capture the professional angles inspired the ‘GoPro’ name.
Woodman initially raised a portion of the money for his company by selling bead and shell belts for under US $20 out of his VW van and later, fashionable camera straps. He also received over $230,000 in investment from his parents.
In 2004, the company sold its first camera system, which used 35 mm film. Digital still and video camera were later introduced. As of 2014 a fixed-lens HD video camera with a wide 170-degree angle was available; two or more can be paired to create 3D video.
On June 4, 2014, the company announced the appointment of former Microsoft executive Tony Bates as President reporting directly to Nick Woodman.
On March 30, 2011, GoPro acquired CineForm. The acquisition included the CineForm 444 video codec, used in the film Slumdog Millionaire. The company claimed that the codec “makes HD and 3D editing faster and more convenient without sacrificing image quality.” It was incorporated in the company’s 3D Hero System shortly after the acquisition.
In March 2013, GoPro issued a DMCA takedown notice to website DigitalRev.com, which had posted a review of its product, citing trademark use as a breach of copyright. This notice was retracted 10 days later, citing “erroneous enforcement”.
On February 7, 2014, GoPro submitted a confidential filing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
On May 19, 2014, GoPro formally filed its S-1 with the SEC without specifying the number of shares or their price. The company stated that they hoped to raise at least $100 million through the sale of shares, using the money to pay off debt in full ($111 million as of March 31, 2014) and “to acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies or assets.” They said that they planned to list on the NASDAQ stock exchange using the symbol ‘GPRO.’
The expected price range was $21 to $24 a share; on June 25, 2014, GoPro sold 17.8 million shares to initial investors at $24 per share (totaling $427.2M). At the IPO price the company was valued at $2.95 billion. 1.5 percent of those shares were allotted to LOYAL3, a technology platform that allows small investors to participate.
An important reason for GoPro’s decision to go public was the potential to become a media company to generate additional revenue from the content its cameras create.